Archive for the 'weirdness' Category

May 8th 2013
Worst teachers ever.

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & fluff & Gender & jobs & students & wankers & weirdness

Trying to avoid grading final exams? Slate offers a diversion with a feature called “What’s the worst thing a teacher ever said to you?”

The Slate writers had some pretty funny stories, usually involving teachers who were irritated about being corrected by their students, but the stories in the comments below are funnier. Check out the story of the kid who tried–and failed!–to convince his high school honors English teacher that Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote takes place in Spain instead of the Netherlands. (Because windmills–duh!) And the stories about not understanding a teacher’s thick Southern or New England accent are pretty funny too: what would you do if you were asked to lead your class “down yonder hill,” or if instructed to draw a picture of that cozy autumn ritual we know as a “barn fire?”

The worst thing I can remember was probably said by a student teacher in his late 20s Continue Reading »

46 Comments »

May 4th 2013
Just another occasion to feel entirely alienated from American culture and values

Posted under American history & class & jobs & students & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Baa Ram U. announced that tuition next year will increase by 9%, making the cost of one year at my university for Colorado residents the princely sum of $7,494.  Unfortunately, the Denver Post buried the lede in the final paragraph, in which the uni’s president notes that “‘If you’re the one writing the check for that $619 increase, that’s what you see, that you’re being forced to pay more money,’ [Tony] Frank said of [the tuition] hike. “That’s not abstract — but what people don’t see is how less of your taxes are being used to buy down the cost of that education.’”

No $hit, Fred.  And yet, we’re still treated to blathering by people–most of whose college degrees have at least 25 years’ worth of dust on them–who want the American people to question the value of a college education.  Moreover, these are in many cases the exact same people who have championed the disinvestment in higher education that started more than thirty years ago.

Interestingly enough, in the very same newspaper in which I read of this tuition increase, I learned from Ask Amy that the average price of a wedding in the United States is now $30,000.  If that number is anywhere near true, then I call bull$hit not just on the Bill Bennett’s of the world, but on the spending priorities of the American people.  Continue Reading »

43 Comments »

April 7th 2013
The empathy gap for those hardworking, white middle-class “men on top?”

Posted under American history & bad language & class & Gender & Intersectionality & race & weirdness & women's history

This essay strikes me as jaw-droppingly weird and pretty stupid.  Susan Jacoby:

WHEN I dream about my father, as I do even though he has been dead for more than a quarter of a century, I always wake up when I hear the crunch of tires rolling over rock salt — an unmistakable sound evoking the winters of my Michigan childhood in the 1950s and early ’60s. Dad, an accountant, would pull his car out of our icy driveway and head for his office long before first light. This was tax season, and he could keep his business and our family financially afloat only by working 80-hour weeks.

You won’t find Bob Jacoby or his unglamorous middle-class, middle-income contemporaries in “Mad Men,” the AMC series beginning its sixth season on Sunday. If we are to believe the message of popular culture, the last men on top — who came of age during World War II or in the decade after it — ran the show at work, at home and in bed.

.       .       .       .       .       .

Nearly all institutional power for 20 years after the war was indeed wielded by the war generation (and eventually by younger men born during the Depression). Yet a vast majority of men possessed limited power that could vanish swiftly if they committed the ultimate sin of failing to bring home a paycheck.  Continue Reading »

34 Comments »

March 8th 2013
Is the ‘stache back?

Posted under fluff & students & the body & weirdness

Mustaches:  they’ve been on my mind lately because of all of the interest in Thomas Friedmans’ “The Mustache of Understandingmooky MOOC-fest earlier this week.  But I’ve also been seeing them riding some young men’s lips around my campus–not so many that I can say that it’s a look on the rise, but not so few that I can dismiss them all as U.S. Civil War reenactors, or actors in a play set in the 1970s.

Beards are always in fashion in Colorado–and unfortunately, a lot of younger men in Fort Collins appear to prefer the crazed Lubavitcher/Amish/Unabomber beard (see below) to the neatly trimmed kind. Continue Reading »

50 Comments »

February 25th 2013
Oscar d00dly b00bfest best for lying down, avoiding

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

We had a much-needed little Front Range snowstorm yesterday.  It was so peaceful and quiet–Sundays are usually pretty quiet days in Potterville, but with the snow swallowing all outdoor sounds, it was even quieter.  I had a beef burgundy* in the oven, and we made a fire and watched a Harry Potter movie instead of the Academy Awards.

It turns out that it was a really excellent decision to shut out the rest of the world last night.  I keep thinking about the old Monty Python skit about Australian wines:  “this isn’t a wine for drinking!  It’s a wine for lying down and avoiding.”  (Don’t miss Linda Holmes’s review at NPR.)  In the end, I think Amy Davidson’s analysis was the best I’ve read today:

Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the Academy can possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour, and started with a number called “We Saw Your Boobs.”

“We Saw Your Boobs” was as a song-and-dance routine in which MacFarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movies in which their breasts were visible. That’s about it. Continue Reading »

13 Comments »

February 10th 2013
No wonder Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique

Posted under American history & captivity & class & Gender & weirdness & women's history

As most of you probably know, this year is The Feminine Mystique‘s fiftieth anniversary. For those of you who wonder why she wrote it, here’s a two-minute and 46-second explanation.

It’s worth seeing the whole video to get to the woman in diamonds and furs peeling potatoes at the end. Can you guess what’s on her head? (I kind of felt for the daschund in the jeweled toque.) The Pathé Fashion Archive is full of fascinating little timewasters–enjoy!

17 Comments »

January 28th 2013
At last! Mansplanations from an angry C-SPAN 3 viewer.

Posted under American history & bad language & Gender & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Drat!  My nefarious radical plot to start a “sex week” at Baa Ram U. has been discovered.  Behold!  A viewer named Bruce, who apparently writes like a blog SPAMbot, has caught me out:

I heard your classroom teaching “clothes of the 17th-18th century” It sounded like you were obsessed with breasts, and fully made that your focal point to those innocent brains of the all female class.* NO-not all slaves walked around bare breasted, and in fact, few ever did if you researched the truth.** Just why in the hell have you made this your theme in the class instead of talking about basic items, like dresses, suits, dress up ideology in those days.*** You must be one of those liberals trying to start a sex week on campus there?****

And it would have worked too if it weren’t for those meddling C-SPAN 3 cameras!

On a more serious note:  my C-SPAN lecture has re-opened my eyes to the power of television.  Continue Reading »

23 Comments »

January 8th 2013
The Full Crazy

Posted under American history & Gender & Intersectionality & race & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Inside the mind of a Second Amendment rights absolutist who believes that the right to “keep and bear arms” empowers Americans to take up arms against the state, among several other charmingly evidence-free beliefs.  I don’t think I’d ever say this in my lifetime, but kudos to Piers Morgan for allowing all of us to see, hear, and smell the crazy.  (And of course, he’s a 9/11 Truther, and just as angry as a Scientologist about psychopharmacology.  You’ve heard of the Full ClevelandThis is the Full Crazy.)

Something else I’d never thought I’d write:  Alan Dershowitz is right, and good for him for reminding us that not all Americans look like that crazy guy, and that we’re still Americans if read the Second Amendment differently (as in the not-crazy way.)

11 Comments »

January 7th 2013
But I thought guns made us all safer: fear and intimidation in Westchester County

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & weirdness

The New York Times has a revealing article about the suburban New York newspaper, The Journal News, and its decision a few weeks ago to publish a list of names and addresses as well as an interactive map of all of the people who hold handgun permits in Westchester and Rockland counties.  The print and online edition of the article, “The Gun Owner Next Door:  What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” became a nationwide sensation, and the Times’s summary of the story so far documents an amazing display of narcissism and projection:

Calls and e-mails grew so threatening that the paper’s president and publisher, Janet Hasson, hired armed guards to monitor the newspaper’s headquarters in White Plains and its bureau in West Nyack, N.Y.

Personal information about editors and writers at the paper has been posted online, including their home addresses and information about where their children attended school; some reporters have received notes saying they would be shot on the way to their cars; bloggers have encouraged people to steal credit card information of Journal News employees; and two packages containing white powder have been sent to the newsroom and a third to a reporter’s home (all were tested by the police and proved to be harmless).

“As journalists, we are prepared for criticism,” Ms. Hasson said, as she sat in her meticulously tended office and described the ways her 225 employees have been harassed since the article was published. “But in the U.S., journalists should not be threatened.” She has paid for staff members who do not feel safe in their homes to stay at hotels, offered guards to walk employees to their cars, encouraged employees to change their home telephone numbers and has been coordinating with the local police.

Was The Journal News right or wrong to publish this information in this fashion?  Most unusually, I have had a hard time formulating an opinion on this.  I can see the arguments from both sides:  Continue Reading »

32 Comments »

January 6th 2013
Oxycodone addict and member of notoriously drunken rich clan with fortune built on bootlegging opposes decriminalization of pot

Posted under American history & bad language & class & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

 

Alcohol is legal; smashing up bars is not.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Retired Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is taking aim at what he sees as knee-jerk support for marijuana legalization among his fellow liberals, in a project that carries special meaning for the self-confessed former oxycodone addict.

Kennedy, 45, a Democrat and younger son of Edward Kennedy, is leading a group called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) that opposes legalization and seeks to rise above America’s culture war over pot.

The sense of entitlement boggles the mind:  why would anyone find him a credible advocate?  Or is this a case of the convert being more Catholic than the Pope, as it were?  Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

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